HMK activists held for trying to picket Chidambaram's house in TN

About 50 activists of Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) and some women fisherfolk from Kasimedu area in North Chennai were arrested when they tried to picket the residence of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in the city today.

The agitation, organised by the fisheries wing of the HMK, was to condemn the Centre for its failure to prevent the frequent attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy personnel.

The HMK workers and some fisherwomen assembled in front of Shastri Bhavan on College Road to take out a march to Mr Chidambaram's residence at Pycrofts Garden Road, when police arrested them. Mr Chidambaram's house is just a stone's from Shastri Bhavan.

As various organisations have announced agitations to condemn the killing of fishermen, heavy police pickets were posted in front of the Union Minister's House. Security has also been tightened at the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission office in the city as some outfits, including the Socialist Democratic Party of India, had announced a picketing agitation.

The HMK activists shouted slogans denouncing the Centre for failing to take steps to prevent killing of fishermen by the Lankan Navy, before they were bundled into the waiting police vehicle.

The agitation comes a day after a fisherman from Vedaranyam in Nagapattinam district was allegedly strangulated to death in the sea by men of the Sri Lankan Navy.

Meanwhile, reports received here said tension continued to prevail in Vedaranayam as fishermen did not venture into the sea for the second successive day to condemn the killing of fisherman Jayakumar yesterday.

Jayakumar was the second fisherman to be allegedly killed by the Sri Lankan Navy in less than ten days. On January 12, the Lankan Navy shot dead a fishermen, hailing from Jegadhapattinam village in Pudukottai district.


Mukherjee assures Karunanidhi of action to end attacks on fishermen

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee calling on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram residence, in Chennai on January 23, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee calling on Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram residence, in Chennai on January 23, 2011. UNI PHOTO

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today assured Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi that the Centre would take up with the Sri Lankan Government the issue of recurring attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Talking to newspersons after a meeting with Mr Karunanidhi at the latter's Gopalapuram residence here this morning, he said the External Affairs Ministry would be asked to take up the issue of the killing of fishermen with the Sri Lankan government.

Mr Mukherjee said India had very good relations with the Sri Lankan government and was helping them in rehabilitating the internally displaced Tamils. There was no reason why the Lankan Navy should resort to such attacks, he said.

If the Indian fishermen do something wrong, they could be arrested and proceeded with due legal process, he said, adding "there is no point in justifying shooting at Indian fishermen by the Lankan Navy".

Mr Mukherjee warned that the relations between India and Sri Lanka would get strained if the island nation's government did not ask its Navy to stop the attacks on Indian fishermen.

He said the External Affair Minister would contact his Sri Lankan counterpart and prevail upon him to stop such attacks on Indian fishermen. The Indian envoy in Colombo would also be asked to take up the issue with the Lankan government, he said.

Mr Mukherjee said Mr Karunanidhi was very much worried that two fishermen were killed by the Lankan Navy in the past ten days.

Expressing his anguish and grief over the killing of fishermen, the Chief Minister asked the Finance Minister to ensure that such incidents did not recur in future, an official press release said.

The Centre should talk to the Sri Lankan government and take proper steps to prevent the attacks. The Centre should also prevail upon the Lankan government to take action against the Naval personnel, who had resorted to firing and attacks, he said.

Mr Karunanidhi brought to the notice of Mr Mukherjee that a 28-year-old fisherman from Nagapattinam district was allegedly killed by Lankan Navy personnel last night when he was fishing along with two other fishermen, the press release said.

Yesterday, the Indian Coast Guard Eastern Region Commandant S P Sharma met the Chief Minister and assured that all necessary steps would be taken to prevent attacks on fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy personnel in future.

However, hours after the Coast Guard official gave the assurance, Jayakumar of Puzhpavanam village in Nagapattinam district was allegedly killed by Lankan Navy personnel.

He was the second fishermen to be killed by the Lankan Navy during this month. On January 12, the Lankan Navy had allegedly shot dead a fisherman and caused injuries to another fisherman.

On the night of January 21, the Lankan Navy personnel allegedly attacked a group of Indian fishermen and seized their GPRS gadgets and their catch, while they were fishing at mid sea.


Will take more responsibilities if given bigger post: Azhagiri

Union Minister and Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) South Zone Organising Secretary M K Azhagiri today said he would accept more responsibilities in the coming Assembly elections if the party offerred him a bigger post.

In a brief chat with newspersons at the airport here before leaving for New Delhi, he said, "I will not ask for any post. If they offer, I will accept the same."

He was replying to a question whether he was being given a bigger post apart from South Zone Organising Secretary in the coming Assembly elections.

"I am already a Union Minister and South Zone Organising Secretary of the party," he said.

Mr Azhagiri evaded a direct reply when asked about reports that he had handed over resignation letters to his father and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi offering to quit the party post and step down from the Union Cabinet.

"The Chief Minister has already given a detailed explanation on this. I have nothing more to say," he said.

Asked whether the DMK would get an additional berth in the Union Cabinet, he said, "I am not the Prime Minister to answer this question."

Answering a question, he denied having demanded that the DMK should sack former Communications Minister A Raja for his alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum scam.

"I have not made such demands. This is only a campaign launched by the media," he said.

Showing signs of rapproachement, Mr Azhagiri yesterday had called on Mr Karunanidhi, his father, at his Gopalapuram residence here.

This was the first time that Mr Azhagiri had called on his father after reports surfaced early this month that he was not happy with party affairs, especially in southern districts and offered to resign, both from the party post and from the Union Cabinet.

Mr Azhagiri was also reported to be unhappy with the party's handling of the 2G spectrum issue, refusing to distance itself from Mr Raja.

However, Mr Karunanidhi, reacting to reports that the Madurai-based Mr Azhagiri had handed over the resignation letters to him, had said "they were only media reports" and denied his son had given him any such letters.


Child falls off grandma's lap in Chennai, dies

A two-and-half-year-old girl fell from her grandmother's lap after being jolted by high decibel levels during fireworks to mark the culmination of the annual Chennai Sangamam Festival at Wimco Nagar near the Northern Chennai suburb of Ennore last night.

Police said the child suffered head injuries and died at a private hospital around 0100 hrs.

Chennai Sangamam is an annual programme held during the Pongal festivities to promote the rural and traditional folk arts of Tamil Nadu.

Being organised through an NGO, Tamil Maiyam, that came under the CBI scanner following the 2G spectrum scam, the Sangamam, was the brainchild of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's poetess daughter Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP.

Venkatesan and Kalpana had brought their daughter Bhavanisri to witness the Chennai Sangamam festival. The child was sitting on her grandmother's lap. They were sitting in an elevated area close to a giant loud speaker erected at the venue.

As the fireworks lit the skies and bursting of crackers followed, the decibel level went high following which the child got rattled and fell down.

The elderly woman could not react in time and the child's head hit a concrete slab. The child sustained head injuries and was rushed to a local hospital from where she was shifted to Child's Trust Hospital in the city, where she died in the wee hours today, according to Ennore Police Station Inspector Nedumaran.


Jaya takes on Cong, seems to "closes door" on alliance

The AIADMK today seemed to close the door on forging an alliance with the Congress for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu with party supremo J Jayalalithaa describing the Congress-DMK alliance as a dangerous combine, "which is going to woo the voters with their loot in various scams, including the 2G spectrum."

In a statement here, Ms Jayalalithaa, who was so far keeping the door open for the Congress, for the first time accused the party of jointly cheating the nation to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the 2G spectrum scam.

Alleging that the "DMK regime in the State has distinguished itself as the most corrupt in any State, ever," she said the Congress-led UPA Government, for its part, "stands totally discredited with the Aadarsh Housing Scam and Commonwealth Games scam keeping the spectrum scam, close company."

"Armed with all this loot, this dangerous combine is going to woo the voters of Tamil Nadu. The people of Tamil Nadu have to be vigilant. It is upto them to teach these criminal opportunists a fitting lesson," she said.

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the city on January 2 (to inaugurate the Indian Science Congress), Mr Karunanidhi, after making a show of sabre-rattling against its national ally following raids on former Telecom Minister A Raja, decided that the party could not afford to break away from the Congress, she said.

Ms Jayalalithaa said the meeting between the Prime Minister and Mr Karunanidhi ended with both of them separately informing the media that the alliance between the two parties "which jointly cheated the nation (in the spectrum allocation)" was intact.

Thereafter, everything changed and barely three days later, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal, "in a gross contempt of court," had rubbished the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the 2G spectrum allocation as totally erroneous, she said.

Mr Sibal claimed that not only had the nation not suffered any loss under Mr Raja, but that a loss of Rs 1,50,000 crore had been caused during the earlier NDA dispensation, she said.

"He tried every trick in his attorney’s handbook in a desperate attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the people. In short, once the continuation of the DMK-Congress alliance was sealed for the forthcoming Tamil Nadu Assembly elections, Raja suddenly became a knight in shining armour," she said.

Alleging that the CBI investigation has run out of steam, she said the documents seized and the details obtained from interrogation had not led to any arrests.

The CAG’s protest that its calculation estimating the extent of loss to the nation were based on absolutely fool-proof and time-tested norms, have gone unnoticed and this constitutional authority has virtually been undermined, she said.

The AIADMK leader, who had offered support to the Congress-led UPA Government in the event of the DMK withdrawing support, accused the Congress leadership of stonewalling the Opposition demand for a JPC probe into the scam and allowed an entire session of Parliament to degenerate into a "no show".

"Mr Sibal, by choosing to debunk the CAG report at an open press meet rather than before the Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions relating to the case or the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, which is already looking into the issues raised in the CAG report, clearly shows that the Congress, for the sake of its ally, the DMK, is prepared to destabilise every constitutional authority in the country.

"It is becoming increasingly apparent that the spectrum probe is moving the Bofors way with the guilty going scot free," she said.

"There is reason for every right-thinking person in this country to be concerned," she added.


CBI officials raid Indian Maritime University premises in Chennai

Officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted raids at the premises of Indian Maritime University at Uthandi here today.

Police said the raids were being conducted following complaints of alleged misappropriation of University funds. The searches, which began in the morning, were continuing.

The CBI officials also raided the Kottivakkam residence of University Vice-Chancellor Dr P Vijayan, police added.


Engineering student commits suicide in Chennai

A second-year engineering student allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself to death after failing to clear the third semester examination, results of which were cleared last evening, police said.

Upset that he failed in all the five subjects, the 18-year-old student, V Ramachandran, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself to death on a ceiling fan at his house in the suburban area of Old Tambaram.

His parents, who run a tea shop, were away when the boy ended his life, the police said.

According to them, the boy returned early from college last evening and found the house locked. He visited his father at the tea shop to get the house key. When his father asked why he had come home early, he said he was suffering from headache and wanted to rest.

When the parents went home last night they found the house locked. They broke open the door and found the boy dead, the police added.


9 AIADMK members suspended from TN House, Oppn. stages walk out

Nine members of the opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) members were today suspended from the Tamil Nadu Assembly for the rest of the session for their unruly behaviour during the Governor's Address to the House on January 7.

Protesting against the suspension, members of the AIADMK, its ally Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) and the two Left parties twice staged a walk-out from the House on the issue.

Soon after the House assembled for the day, Leader of the House and Finance Minister K Anbazhagan moved a resolution seeking to suspend nine AIADMK members for disurpting the proceedings and the Governor's address.

The House adopted a resolution suspending AIADMK members D Jayakumar, K Hari, Pandurangan, Pollachi Jayaraman, S Velumani, L Ravichandran, Agri Krishnamurthy, Senthil Balaji and C Ve Shanmugham for their unruly behaviour and staging a protest inside the House, when Speaker R Aviduayappan ordered their eviction on that day for disrupting the Governor's address.

Condemning the suspension, the AIADMK members staged a walk-out. Its allies, the MDMK, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) also followed suit.


Tennis: Berdych, Tisarevic, Malaisse in last 4 of Chennai Open

Top seeded Czech Tomas Berdych, seventh seed Xavier Malisse and sixth seeded Serb Janko Tisarevfc moved into the semi-finals of the singles at the ATP Tour Aircel Chennai Open 2011 tennis championships with easy victories against their opponents here yesterday.

In the first quarter-final on the centre court, Berdych, in Chennai for the first time, downed world no. 108 Slovak Blaz Kavcic. The hard-hitting Czech won 6-3, 6-3 in a little more than an hour.

Tipsarevic (Serbia) did not have to stretch himself much while ending the run of Japan's Kei Nishikori. Playing Nishikori for the first time, Tisarevic, a crowd favourite here, outplayed the talented Japanese 6-4, 6-4 in straight sets.

On court no 1, world no. 60 Malisse closed in on his second final in this eventi, winning saving seven break points to crush German Bjorn Phau 6-0, 6-2 in 71 minutes. Malaisse had won the title here in 2007.

"I played a strong match," reflected Malisse. "I didn't make any mistakes and played a smart match. I like coming here to Chennai. It's very relaxing, the matches start at 5 pm so you can rest and recover well. I feel good here; the balls and the courts suit my game well," he said about his win.


Seat sharing talks with Congress after Pongal: Karunanidhi

Asserting that the alliance between his Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Congress remained strong, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today said the party would hold seat-sharing talks with the Congress after the Pongal festival.

Talking to newspersons after a meeting of party MLAs here, the DMK chief said both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the alliance between the two parties remained as strong as ever.

Earlier in the morning, Tamil Nadu Congress Commmittee (TNCC) President K V Thangabalu called on the Chief Minister at the new Secretariat, before the start of the Assembly session.

The Congress leader said he met the Chief Minister to extend his New Year greetings as he was not in the city at the time.

The Congress leaders have already said the alliance is strong and he had nothing to add, Mr Karunanidhi said.

On former telecom minister A Raja being allowed to be prosecuted in connection with the 2G spectrum scam, Mr Karunanidhi said he did not want to say anything as the matter was sub-judice.


Tennis: Indian Express Paes-Bhupathi enter semis in Chennai Open

The "Indian Express" pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati ran over unseeded Phil Marx (Gemany) and Ken Skupski (Great Britain) to enter the doubles semi-finals of ATP Tour 2011 Aircel Chennai Open Tennis Championships here tonight.

The left-right combination of Skupski and Marx were hoping to derail the second-seeded famous Indian duo who had come together here again after five years in preparation for the Australian Open, the Grand Slam in which they were to play together after their split some years ago.

They had been playing together for India in the Davis Cup though.

Paes and Bhupati were in control right from the first set of this one- sided duel. They romped home 6-4, up 5-3, breaking Marx in the fifth game. The Indian duo served and volleyed well.

However, Marx and Skupsi picked up steam in the second set in which Paes and Bhupati made some unforced errors. However, forcing a tie- break after drawing level at 6-6, the Indian Express picked up great momentum to lead 4-1, 6-3 and wrapped up the duel as the nearly full centre court cheered them endlessly.

The contest lasted an hour and thirty minutes or so. Paes regaled the crowds hitting tennis balls into the stands with a cricket ball later.


Leander felicitated by his alma mater MCC Higher Secondary School

Ace Indian Tennis Player Leander Paes addressing students at Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School where he had studied, in Chennai on January 7, 2011. UNI PHOTO
Ace Indian Tennis Player Leander Paes addressing students at Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School where he had studied, in Chennai on January 7, 2011. UNI PHOTO

Tennis ace Leander Paes, who is here to participate in the ATP Tour 2011 Chennai Open Tennis Championships, today dedicated his triumphs in the Grand Slams to his alma mater Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School.

Paes had studied in this school from 1986 to 1992, from class six to ten.

He said whatever he was in life, he owed it to the school and his teachers then. They had tought him the values in life, besides encouraging him to take to sports. Besides tennis, which he was learning at the now defunct BAT Amritraj Academy, he used to love playing football at school, Paes said, addressing the students.

He said he was about to begin a new career post tennis. "I cannot go on entertaining people with my tennis as age catches up. So I am now taking up a new career in films," Paes, who has signed four films, told the students, when one of then asked him about his new-found love for acting.

When a student asked him which career he loved more, Leander said the film career was to keep him active after his tennis.

Headmaster and Correspondent of the School G J Manohar said Paes' teachers recalled that he was mischievous. But he could balance his academics and sport in an organised manner.

Mr Manohar told UNI that Paes was felicitated on the occasion of the scool celebrating 175 years of existence as a famous institution which also produced many distinguished sportspersons for Tamil Nadu as well as India.


PMK set to come back to DMK fold in Tamil Nadu

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), which broke away from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led alliance prior to the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, is all set to come back to the DMK fold for the Assembly elections.

Confirming this, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi said the PMK joining the DMK-led alliance had almost been finalised.

Talking to newspersons after a meeting of party MLAs here, he said the PMK had given some signals and the DMK had also responded to the signals.

Both the parties would soon hold talks, he said, adding, "We have not yet fixed the date for talks."

The PMK joining the DMK-led alliance became evident when the party legislators did not join the opposition chorus to pin down the government.

During the previous session, the PMK members had opposed the government, but changed their stand now, giving clear indications that the party had come close to the DMK.

Party founder leader S Ramadoss, who had criticised the opposition for demanding Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam, welcomed the Governor's address.

The PMK, which fought the 2006 assembly elections in alliance with the DMK, broke away from the party after the DMK took exception to its senior leader Kaduvatti Guru who spoke against the DMK high command in a party meeting.

The relations became strained after the DMK government had detained Mr Guru under the National Security Act (NSA) (which was subsequently revoked).

Prior to the Lok Sabha elections, the PMK chose to renew its ties with the AIADMK and contested seven seats, only to draw a blank.

After AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa refused to instruct party leader and former Minister C V Shanmugam to drop a criminal case against Dr Ramadoss and his son Anbumani Ramadoss, PMK distanced itself from the AIADMK.


Tennis: Tipsarevic stays on course in Chennai Open

Seventh seeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic kept alive his hopes of a second singles title here by ending the run of Russian qualifier Alexandre Kudryavtsev 6-2, 7-6 (3) in the ATP Tour Chennai Open Tennis Championships today.

The 1-hour 22-minute, generally one-sided battle, especially in the first set, earned Tipsarevic, who was the singles champion here in 2007, a berth in the quarter-finals.

The win was also his second against the 26-year-old Russian after a gap of two years in their second meeting. He had defeated Kudryavtsev in Moscow in October 2008.

As both traded powerful passing shots from the baseline essentially, holding serve was crucial. In the first set, up 2-1, Tipsarevic broke the Russian for a 3-1 lead. He held serve for a 4-1 lead before dropping the sixth game. He wrapped up the set breaking the Russian in the eighth.

But the Russian raised his game vastly in the second set which went on serves. Drawing up on 6-6, the Russian forced a tie break. Tipsarevic settled the issue rather easily in the tie-breaker 6-3, dropping two points, leading 4-1.

Talking to the media after the match, Tipsarevic said he could have wrapped up the match early in the second set, but the Russian saved three break points. "He also played well.... he was very very good."

Asked about a possible contest against Japan's Kei Nishikori in the quarter finals, Tisarevic said Kei was an attacking player and very good although not a strong server.

"Last year, he was suffering from injuries," he recalled, adding Falla was also a good player.

"Whover it is, the match would be basically a baseline contest," he added.

Asked what he thought of his popularity with the tennis fans in Chennai, Tipsarevic said, "I don't know. I have seen that the people here like me. But I am happy playing here."

Tisarevic admitted that his country's triumph in the Davis Cup gave him a lot of confidence for the new season.

"It sure gave me confidence," he observed, adding the Davis Cup was really a world championship event and it should be known by that name rather than by the present name.


T R Baalu meets Sonia amid reports of Azhagiri's resignation

Senior Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader T R Baalu met Congress president Sonia Gandhi here today and discussed the political situation arising out of the 2G spectrum controversy revolving around party leader and former Union Communications Minister A Raja.

Although Mr Baalu described it as a "courtesy call", sources said the relations between the Congress and the DMK were discussed following the raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Mr Raja's premises.

"It was a courtesy call. I conveyed DMK chief M Karunanidhi's new year greetings to the Congress president," Mr Baalu told reporters after the meeting at Ms Gandhi's residence.

He said the meeting did not have anything to do with Union Minister and DMK leader M K Azhagiri's resignation.

Reports said the ruling DMK, which is gearing up for the upcoming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, suffered a setback with Mr Azhagiri raising a banner of revolt and offering to step down as its South Zone Organising Secretary.

Expressing dissatisfation with party affairs, Mr Azhagiri is believed to have handed over the resignation letter to his father Mr Karunanidhi on January 3. But the DMK chief refused to accept

the resignation, the reports added.


Tennis: Top seed Berdych enters quarter finals of Chennai Open

Top seeded and world no 6 Tomas Berdych entered the singles quarter-finals of the ATP Tour Aircel 2011 Chennai Open tennis championship with a 6-2, 6-4 straight set win over Croatia's Ivan Dodig here this evening.

The Czech and the Croat appeared to be unevenly matched in what was their first ATP Tour meeting as Berdych outplayed the 26-year-old Croat, who was playing for the first time in Chennai.

Dodig looked rusty in the first set in which Berdych broke him in the first, third and the fifth games, serving and returning with aplomb. But Dodig managed to break Berdych once in the four game, down 1-3.

But the Croat was neither shaken nor shaky in the second set. He waged a grim battle with his superior opponent who had won only seven of the 20 matches after emerging the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2010.

The Croat served well and fired an ace or two, but gave away more negative points than his famed rival. Berdych broke the Croat in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead and as Dodig narrowed the lead to 4-5, Berdych finished it off in style up 40-0 and 40-15. The contest lasted an hour and 15 minutes.

Speaking after the match, Berdych said, "It is important to play 100 per cent. The scores may make it look easy. But no match can be won easily."

"I am happy to go through to quarters," he said, adding a final against the likes of Wawrinka was farfetched at this stage. "I still have a few more matches to win," he said in modesty.


Lalit Modi refuses summons issued by Chennai Police

Suspended Indian Premier League (IPL) Chairman Lalit Modi has refused the summons issued by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of Chennai Police based on a complaint filed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) accusing him of alleged financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 469 crore.

The police are now looking to move the appropriate court in this regard.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function here today, Chennai City Police Commissioner T Rajendran said, "We have issued summons to seven people asking them to appear before the CCB. But the one issued to Modi has returned as refused."

Mr Rajendran said the summons were issued to Mr Modi and the six others on December 27, asking them to appear before the CCB and present their versions to the complaint filed by the BCCI.

He said following the summons one of the six, Kunal Das Gupta, appeared before the CCB today. "We are examining him," he said.

Asked whether the CCB would move legally against Modi for refusing the summons, the Commissioner said, "We hope that another three or four will appear before the CCB in the next couple of days. We have given time till January 7."

"Let us see. We will wait for a couple of days. If more people do not appear, we will move the court against all those who failed to respond to the summons, instead of filing separate petitions against each one of them," he added.

The Commissioner had last week said investigations so far revealed that some losses had been incurred by the BCCI over the handling of the IPL media rights and free commercial air time by Mr Modi.

The summons were issued to Modi, Kunal Dasgupta, Venu Nair, Andrew Georgio, Seamus O'Brien, Harish Krishnamachar and Ajay Verma.

"If they do not obey the summons, there are legal provisions. We will move the appropriate Court under Sec 172 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) (Absconding to avoid service of summons or other proceedings)," he said.

The complaint was filed by BCCI Secretary N Srinivasan as a follow-up to a decision taken at its annual general meeting in the last week of September. The AGM had authorised Mr Srinivasan to lodge a comprehensive complaint with the police for the alleged financial misdemeanours of Mr Modi.

Srinivasan, in his complaint, said "various acts" of Modi attracted penal action under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and accused him of misappropriating funds by rigging media right bids and free commercial air time. The main charges against Modi pertained to media rights (misappropriation of Rs 425 crore), security issues (Rs 25 crore) and free commercial air time (Rs 29 crore).


Tennis: Paes-Bhupathi fight back from brink of defeat

Playing together in this tournament after a gap of nine years, top seeded Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi fought back from the brink and edged out Canadian-Swiss combination of Frank Dancevic and Stanislas Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6 (8), 10-4 to enter the doubles second round in the Aircel ATP Chennai Open Tennis Championship here today.

Paes, 37, and Bhupathi, a year younger, who had first paired up in 1997 and won four titles, the last in 2002, held their nerves when down by a set and then 3-6 in the second set tie-break, displaying in the process some of their old magic.

They worked their way past the high speed serves of Dancevic and Wawrinka, after going down tamely in the first set. Coming up with sharp volleying and getting back their first serves, which let them down in the first set, they drew on their vast experience to draw level after trailing 2-5 in the second set. They dropped a match point before winning the set on the second match point.

In the super tie break, the winners of three Grand Slam titles together enacted some of the old scenes of chest thumping while jumping to a 7-1 lead. They were on match point at 9-4. A netted service return by Wawrinka on Paes’ serve earned the Indians the march into the quarter-finals.

Earlier, the Indian challenge through four pairs in the doubles was off to an ominous start as the unseeded Somdev Dev Verman and Sanam Singh, the doubles gold medalists at the Asian Games in China in 2010, lost in three sets to the Dutch-US combination of Robin Haase and David Goffin.

Somdev and Sanam, who received a wild card entry, won the first set closely. But their game crashed in the second. Haase and Goffin prevailed after 83 minutes 5-7, 6-2, 10-8.

The Indian hopes, apart from Leander and Mahesh, in the doubles now hinge on Vishnu Vardhan and Divij Saran, while Rohan Bopanna is partnering Pakistani Aisam- ul-Haq Qureshi, the Indo-Pak express.

Earlier, in a late night singles first round match, sixth seeded Serbian Davis Cupper Janko Tipsarevic overcame a shaky start when he was down three break points in the very first game of the opening set. He ulitmately outclassed wayward Argentine Eduardo Schwank 6-3, 6-4, in just 79 minutes.

Tipsarevic, a semi-finalist here last year, broke his rival once in each set and won easily while Schwank, who was inconsistent.

The results:

Doubles (1st round): Robin Haase (NED) / David Goffin (US) bt

WC-Somdev Devvarman/ Sanam Singh (IND) 5-7, 6-2, 10-8,

Leander Paes / Mahesh Bhupathi (IND) bt Frank Dancevic (CAN)/

Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 3-6, 7-6 (8), 10-4.


Jayalalithaa hits out at Karunanidhi's remarks on freebies

Opposition AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa today took a dig at Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi for his New Year day remarks that freebies would continue as long as the poor remained.

In a statement here, she said this only showed that Mr Karunanidhi wanted to keep the Tamil people eternally poor.

"He was not expressing his concern for the poor and downtrodden of the state. On the contrary, he was only publicly reinforcing the rich-poor divide," she alleged, adding he was only admitting that he does not have any scheme for the eradication of poverty.

"By making such a statement, Mr Karunanidhi was inadvertently acknowledging that he does not even have basic concern for the poor. In fact, he wants the poor in Tamil Nadu to remain poor," she charged.

"Only then can he keep bribing them with sops and freebies to buy their votes," she said.

Ms Jayalalithaa said that giving away freebies arbitrarily without strengthening the basic infrastructure was like printing currency notes without a corresponding back-up in gold.

"It comes cheap and is not even worth the paper it is printed on," she said.

She said the situation in Tamil Nadu was such that while rice was available for the poor at Re 1 a kg through the public distribution system (PDS), onions cost as much as Rs 90 a kg.

"All vegetables cost over Rs 50 a kg, while dal used for the traditional cuisine sambar, costs close to Rs 100. Cooking oil costs over Rs 100 per kg. Gas stoves are being given free. But cooking gas costs nearly Rs 400 a cylinder. Gas is so scarce that cylinders are not delivered for almost 30 days after booking," she said.

"This is the tragedy of Tamil Nadu. There is a Chinese proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime," she remarked.

She said Mr Karunanidhi’s strategy was to make the Tamil people a society of parasites, who were dependent on freebies, doles and sops for their livelihood.

Stating that rights of the Tamil people had been bartered away on inter-state river issues, Ms Jayalalithaa said the day of reckoning was not far off.


Tennis: Defending champion Cilic exits on day 1 of Chennai Open

Defending champion and second seed Croat Marin Cilic was upset by low ranked Japanese Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-7 (0), 2-6 in the first round of the singles event in the ATP Tour Chennai Open Tennis Championships here today.

The moderate crowd at the centre court was immensely disappointed as Cilic, looking to become the first player in Chennai Open to make it a hat-trick of singles titles, fell easy prey to the perky and fleet-footed Nishikori who is seen as a future talent.

As Cilic was hitting his power packed passing shots from the baseline, invariably out on crucial points, the Japanese also beat him whenever the Croat came up to the net with overhead lobs.

In the tie-breaker, Cilic was even worse, hitting his returns into the net, and failed to pick up even a single point even on his serve.

And the match was completely transformed in the deciding third set with Nishikori holding serve and breaking Cilic in the seventh game for a 5-2 lead. He then wrapped up the match holding serve.

Cilic was the winner of the singles title here in 2009 and 2010.

In two other first round matches, German Bjorn Phau, a regular visitor to Chennai, sailed into the second round with a 6-2, 6-2 straight set win over low ranked Italian Simone Bolelli. France's Stephane Robert also had a straight set win over A Haider Maurer 6-4, 6-4.


Karunanidhi meets PM, says Congress-DMK alliance strong as ever

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Raj Bhawan, in Chennai on January 3, 2011.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Raj Bhawan, in Chennai on January 3, 2011.

Setting at rest speculation about strains in the relationship, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Raj Bhavan here this morning and asserted that the alliance between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) remained strong as ever.

The Chief Minister, who could not meet the Prime Minister last night, did so at the Raj Bhavan here this morning, before the latter left to inaugurate the Indian Science Congress at SRM University in suburban Kattankulathur.

Later, talking to waiting newspersons, Mr Karunanidhi said he could not meet the Prime Minister last night as he had a prior engagement.

Answering a question, the DMK leader reiterated that the alliance between the two parties continued to be strong. "It is as strong as the ties between you and me", he told newspersons.

The Chief Minister also said he had requested the Prime Minister to release flood relief assistance which his government had sought.

After the DMK government urged the Centre to release about Rs 1,200 crore from the National Calamity Relief Fund, a Central team had visited the flood-affected districts of the state and assessed the extent of damage caused by the North-east monsoon rains.

Mr Karunanidhi, replying to a question, said he was not upset with the Prime Minister for the latter's inability to inaugurate the Adyar Eco Park, due to delay in getting clearance from the Union Environment Ministry. The Prime Minister had a genuine reason for cancelling the programme, he said.

The Chief Minister could not go to the airport to receive the Prime Minister on his arrival last evening and skipped his scheduled dinner meet as he chose to attend the function book release of his friend and lyricist Vairamuthu.

This triggered speculation of strained relations between Mr Karunanidhi and Dr Singh in the backdrop of the alleged 2G spectrum scam. However, the DMK leader, setting at rest speculation, called on the Prime Minister this morning and discussed various issues.

While addressing the book release function last night, he had said that it was because of his love and sense of duty for Tamil and a poet that he skipped going to the airport to receive the Prime Minister. He also had a sore throat and an inconvenience in his eyes, he said.

NetIndian News Network adds:

Dr Singh told journalists after the meeting that they had discussed the flood situation in Tamil Nadu, the Adyar Eco Park project and the relations between the DMK and the Congress in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Asked about Mr Karunanidhi's views on the relations between the two parties, Dr Singh said, "Well, the alliance remains as strong as ever."

This was the first meeting between the two leaders after the resignation of Mr A Raja, a DMK leader, as Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology in the wake of the allegations against him in the 2G spectrum allocation issue.


PM says Indian science must think big, ahead of the times

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday that the year 2012-13, the centenary year of the Indian Science Congress, would be designated as the "Year of Science in India".
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the 98th Indian Science Congress, in Chennai on January 3, 2011.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the 98th Indian Science Congress, in Chennai on January 3, 2011.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the year 2012-13, the centenary year of the Indian Science Congress, would be designated as the "Year of Science in India" and also announced that there would be a national celebration of the birth centenary of Prof S Chandrasekhar, one of the outstanding scientists of the 20th century.

"The time has come for Indian science to once again think big; think out of the box; and think ahead of the times. The time has come for India to produce the Ramans and Ramanujans of the 21st Century," Dr Singh said in his inaugural address to the 98th Indian Science Congress in Chennai.

He was referring to the fact that Tamil Nadu had a unique place in the world of Indian science. India's first Nobel Laureate in the sciences, Dr C V Raman, was a student of Presidency College in Chennai as was Prof S Chandrasekhar. He noted that the state had also produced one of India's greatest mathematicians, Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Dr Singh said that the New Year also marked the beginning of the "Decade of Innovation" and urged scientists to dedicate their life and work for the development of modern science and to the application of science to the betterment of the lives of the Indian people.

Stressing that a university was the vital link in the chain of science teaching and research, he said that, unless the base of the educational system was strengthened, the country could never hope to extend the height of the pyramid of excellence.

"We also need to create an innovation eco-system so that innovation becomes a way of life in our knowledge institutions," he said.

The Prime Minister said that, as a former university teacher, he was happy that his government, in the last six years, had tried to pay special attention to the growth and development of the university system.

"We have sanctioned funds for the creation of new universities and increased the capacity of existing ones," he said.

He mentioned that, in the past five years, the Government had established eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) to provide high quality education and carry out research in frontier areas of science and technology.

He said that an Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research, which sought to produce more than 1,000 doctoral and post graduate fellows every year, was being established. He urged the teaching community to strengthen both the teaching and research sides of the University system.

Dr Singh said the Universities had to be more hospitable to creativity and genius, and less captive to bureaucracy and procedure. They should be more open to talent and to the challenge of new ideas, he said.

"The growth of our economy, the health of our people and the security of our country depends on the scientific and technological competence. This is well understood and is reflected in the substantial support that all governments give to the pursuit of scientific research. This support is often swayed by the immediate needs as perceived at that time. In this way the direction of scientific effort is shaped by society at large," he said.

Dr Singh said scientists were not just servants who did the bidding of their paymasters. "But scientists are not just servants who do the bidding of their paymasters. They are driven by curiosity and seek knowledge often for its own sake. The fundamental discoveries of physics, chemistry and biology have come from this thirst for understanding rather than from any social compulsion.

"But big discoveries have influenced society through new technological options which have offered generally benefits to humankind but sometimes have been used for more harmful purposes as well," he said.

He said science was value free in the sense that scientific hypotheses had to be accepted or rejected on the basis of facts and not on the basis of their consistency with any ethical or religious belief.

"But how science is used depends also on the values and priorities of the time in society. Thus the splitting of the atom led on the one hand to the atomic bomb and on the other to nuclear energy. One kills; the other has extended the bounds of developmental possibilities on a planet worried about carbon emissions and climate change.

"The development of synthetic chemistry was the basis of poison gas used in wars and of agro chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Mendelian genetics provided the knowledge for the breeding of new crop varieties and also for perverse experiments in eugenics in Nazi Germany," he said.

The Prime Minister said these examples illustrated why the application of scientific knowledge to human and social development must be value-based even though science itself to be value neutral.

"Take modern developments in the bio-sciences for instance. We are now acquiring the capacity to manipulate the human genome. But we have yet not developed an ethical framework that defines red lines that we must not cross as we do this," he said.

"The question is whether scientists should step beyond their discipline and at least guide the social discourse on the use of scientific knowledge. Should they develop a code of conduct that defines the limits within which they will work on the application of their discoveries? Should there be a collegial process for deciding difficult cases? I leave these as questions because the very idea of ethics for science needs further discussion," he said.

Dr Singh said he belonged to a generation that worried about the links between science and society.

"Scientific temper, we believed, would help India make the transition from a traditional to a modern society. We saw the development of science as intrinsic to the advancement of modernism, pluralism and liberalism," he said.

"But, it is true that science has made strides even in societies that were neither modern nor liberal. It is true that the products of science have been put sometimes to illiberal uses. I sincerely believe we must guard against such tendencies, especially in our own blessed country," he said.

Dr Singh said that, in August 2010, the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister prepared a report setting out a vision and a roadmap for India to become a global leader in science. The Council has inter alia recommended measures to attract the best of talent for science. He urged the Ministries of Human Resource Development and of Science & Technology to jointly mount efforts to attract more young people to the study of science.

"The report also pointed out that while C. V. Raman won the Nobel Prize eighty years ago for the Raman Effect, most of the instruments available in India today using this principle are imported. This is not an isolated example. Many of our outstanding scientific discoveries have been converted into marketable products by technologists and firms based abroad.

"Why is the translation of good science and research into products so weak in our country? How do we strengthen the link between Universities, research laboratories and industry? I would like the Science Congress to discuss these issues and come out with actionable recommendations. I believe that the scientific community should give due recognition to scientists who build advanced instruments," he said.

Dr Singh said there was need for a concerted effort at building and motivating a new generation of scientific talent. He said the Government had, to this end, launched the INSPIRE or Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research programme.

He said this programme was doing very well, with more than 3.5 lakh students in the age group 10-27 years having eceived awards and scholarships under it.

He said that on his trips abroad he met bright young people from India doing good work in the area of science who wish to continue their work back home in India.

"How do we draw on this talent pool? How do we make our Universities more open to such talent, including for those who seek temporary affiliation? I hope you will deliberate on these issues," he told the gathering.

The Prime Minister said modern cyber technology now allowed trans-continental collaborative research and hoped to see more joint research projects between Indians in India and those abroad so that the country could draw on this global talent pool and strengthen its own teaching and research base. He said the high-speed National Knowledge Network would greatly facilitate such collaborations.

"I sincerely hope the 'Year of Science in India' will unleash the energies of our young scientists and inspire a new generation of Indians to enter the world of science, cross new horizons and explore new possibilities. I sincerely hope more young people increasingly participate in the deliberations of the Indian Science Congress in years to come. Science is ageless, but our scientists must be younger!" he added.


PM arrives in Chennai for Science Congress, no meeting with CM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being received by the Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on his arrival at Chennai Airport on January 2, 2011.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being received by the Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on his arrival at Chennai Airport on January 2, 2011.

The much-expected meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who arrived here this evening to inaugurate the 98th Indian Science Congress tomorrow, and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi did not take place here tonight.

There was speculation in political circles that the Chief Minister would meet the Prime Minister at Raj Bhavan after his arrival from New Delhi.

But Mr Karunanidhi, after attending a function organised to launch a book comprising 1,000 songs of popular lyricist Vairamuthu, drove straight to the New Secretariat Complex.

The reason for Mr Karunanidhi not meeting the Prime Minister was not known.

Sources also said it was not known whether the Chief Minister would be meeting Dr Singh tomorrow morning, before the Prime Minister leaves for SRM University to inaugurate the Science Congress at 1000 hrs.

Dr Singh was earlier scheduled to inaugurate the Adyar Eco Park tomorrow, but the programme was cancelled as the project was not cleared by the Union Environment Ministry.

Since the Chief Minister was pre-occupied with the Vairamuthu function, his son and Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin received the Prime Minister at the airport on his arrival from New Delhi.

If Dr Singh and Mr Karunanidhi had met, it would have been the first interaction between the top rung leaders of the ruling DMK and its key ally, the Congress, after the recent Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raids at the residences and premises of former Communications Minister A Raja, his close aides and family members in connection with the alleged 2G spectrum scam.

The CBI raids and the subsequent questioning of Mr Raja for his alleged role in the saga has strained the relations between the DMK and the Congress, though the Congress High Command has been stressing that the ties were strong and would continue.

Yesterday, senior Congress leader and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram called on the Chief Minister at his Gopalapuram residence here and held discussions with him.

Though Mr Chidambaram, a strong votary for the continuance of the ties between the two parties, said he had called on Mr Karunanidhi to convey his New Year greetings, the meeting assumed significance

as it took place at a time when the DMK leadership was reportedly upset over the CBI raids, which had started taking centre-stage in the state politics, especially with the elections round the corner.

Mr Chidambaram's meeting with the DMK chief came as a morale booster to the DMK, which was hard hit by the alleged scam and the growing demand from within the Congress, from leaders like former Union Minister E V K S Elangovan, to snap the ties.


Tennis: Indian challenge ends in Chennai Open qualifiers

The Indian challenge in the qualifying rounds of the 2011 Chennai Open Tennis ended with the three remaining contenders Vishnu Vardhan, Karanuday Singh and Rupesh Roy crashing out meekly here today.

Only Roy had a chance to put it across Konstantin Kravchuk of Russsia. Karunuday, world no. 900, lost 3-6 5-7 to 120th-ranked Go Soeda of Japan.

In a game resembling a battle between two resolute baseliners, Singh struggled to return Soeda's serves and lost the first set 3-6. He came back strongly in the second set and went 5-4 up after being 2-4. Soeda did not help himself, giving in to a steady stream of unforced errors but Singh was too inconsistent to make the shortcomings fatal. Singh's failure to hold on to his purple patches saw him losing the second set 5-7.

Vishnuvardhan, who upset third seed Conor Niland in the first round of qualifying yesterday, surrendered his first set 1-6 to Ante Pavic of Croatia before fighting back in the second. But he could not overcome the power-hitting of the tall Pavic and lost 6-1 6-4.

After Rupesh Roy was ousted by Kravchuk 3-6 1-6, another person of Indian origin, Rajeev Ram, whose parents are from the country, lost a close contest with Alexandre Kudryavtsev of Russia 0-6 6-4 5-7.

Playing himself back into the match after conceding the first set 0-6, Ram played his serve and volley game to take the second 6-4 and forced Kudryatsev to earn his victory.

Though the Russian did not charge the net as often as in the USA international, he kept his cool to win the decisive points and took the third set 7-5.

Kudryatsev will meet Pavic for a spot in the main draw tomorrow while Kravchuk will meet Yuichi Sugita of Japan.


Milos Raonic (CAN) bt Evgeny Kirillov (RUS) 6-2 7-5; E R Vasselin (FRA) bt Skugor (CRO) 6-4 3-6 6-3; Go Soeda (JPN) bt Karunuday Singh (IND) 6-3 7-5; Konstanstin Kravchuk (RUS) bt Rupesh Roy (IND) 6-3 6-1; Yuichi Sugita (JPN) bt Leos Friedl (CZE) by walk over; Ivo Minar (CZE) bt David Goffin (BEL) 6-4 6-3; Ante Pavic (CRO) bt Vishnu Vardhan (IND) 6-1 6-4 ; Alexandre Kudryavtsev (RUS) bt Rajeev Ram (USA) 6-0 4-6 7-5.


Cultural show "Chennai Sangamam" to be held from January 12-17

"Thamizh Maiyam", a non-governmental organisation that promotes indigenous culture, will hold its annual show, "Chennai Sangamam" here from January 12 to 17.

As in the past four years, the fifth edition of the show will be held during the traditional "Pongal" festival. This year, the organisers have also given space to children from slums, the differently abled and transgenders to exhibit their skills in traditional art forms.

Announcing the 2011 edition of this immensely popular celebration of Tamil heritage, Thamizh Maiyam founder Jegat Gaspar Raj and its convener and Rajya Sabha member K Kanimozhi said some "very meaningful" new components had been added this year.

To give it a cosmopolitan or pan-Indian image, artistes from neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka, and Orissa would also be part of the show, they said.

They said the folk art forms of the state would get the predominant place again and the classical artistes would get the unique opportunity to connect with the afficionados at the venues.

More than a hundred poets, writers and speakers will also showcase the rich Tamil literature, lined up by "Tamil Nadu Iyal Isai Nadaga Mandram", they said.

This year the curtain would go up on the programmes at all venues simultaneously even as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi presides over the grand inaugural function at the Island grounds with a spectacular show involving hundreds of folk and contemporary artistes.

Indigenous Tamil cuisines would also continue to be an important aspect of the event. A Tamil documentary festival was also being planned, they added.


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